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Common environmental hazards may be in your rental

If you have been having difficulty getting an appropriate and timely response from your landlord for issues in your rental unit, you may dread approaching the management with your latest concern. It may not even be a problem you can directly indicate, but something is definitely wrong.

You or a member of your household has been feeling ill. The symptoms are strange and new since moving into your new apartment or rental home, but you feel certain they are related to the environmental conditions in the unit. What are your rights and responsibilities?

Habitability

Like other states, North Carolina landlords have certain laws to obey, including those laws governing any hazardous conditions in your rental unit. If the property manager of your rental was aware of the toxic conditions in your home, he or should was responsible for disclosing that to you prior to you signing a lease. Additionally, if the landlord or property owner can correct the condition, he or she has a duty to protect you by removing the hazard.

Some of the most common environmental issues you may face as a renter include the following:

  • Mold: Toxic mold growing where moisture has been trapped can be a dangerous allergen to those who have a sensitivity. A mold condition that existed prior to your occupancy is the landlord's responsibility, but you may face some liability if you caused and failed to report the moisture issue that led to mold.
  • Lead: Paint produced before 1978 contained dangerous lead. Lead from old paint can cause neurological damage when ingested, which happens most often in small children. If your property has old paint on the walls, your landlord may have disclosed this to you when you signed your lease.
  • Asbestos: Depending on the age of the home you are renting and other factors, your landlord may be required to warn you of the location of cancer-causing asbestos in your building. If you are living in an older building and your landlord makes renovations, the law may require him or her to inform you of any asbestos danger, to test for its presence and to take precautions to avoid contamination.
  • Radon: Even though laws do not require it, if your apartment is in the basement or on a lower floor, your landlord should have tested for the invisible, odorless gas that seeps into the cracks in a building foundation. Radon can cause lung cancer, and you may wish to test the air yourself with a simple test kit.

The presence of many of these environmental hazards may lead to expensive repairs for your property owner. If he or she is unwilling to make these changes or to release you from your rental contract, you may consider obtaining legal guidance.

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